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Why Are Hungry College Students Not Seeking Help? Predictors of and Barriers to Using an On-Campus Food Pantry

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Department of Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(9), 1163; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10091163
Received: 7 August 2018 / Revised: 17 August 2018 / Accepted: 22 August 2018 / Published: 25 August 2018
Background: The number of food pantries on U.S. college campuses has increased in response to students’ food insecurity, but limited information is available to describe the impact of this resource. The objective of this cross-sectional investigation was to examine the relationship between food insecurity and food pantry awareness, use, and perceived barriers to use. Methods: Students attending the University of Florida in fall 2017 (n = 899) completed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Adult Food Security Survey and responded to questions about food pantry awareness and use. Sociodemographic data were also collected and included in multivariate logistic regression models. Results: While most students (70%) were aware of the existing food pantry, nearly a third of respondents were classified as being food insecure. After adjusting for sociodemographic correlates, factors such as identifying as being food insecure, international status, and receiving a student loan or a need-based federal financial aid (Pell grant) increased the likelihood of utilizing the campus food pantry. Despite these predictors, only 38% of food insecure students reported food pantry use. Among students who provided qualitative insights, four main barriers to using the on-campus food pantry were identified: social stigma, insufficient information on pantry use policies, self-identity, and inconvenient hours. Conclusions: Food security interventions and administrative policy should consider a new model of the traditional campus food pantry that reduces concerns of social stigma and is supported by clear and ongoing communications of operational procedures tailored for the college student population. View Full-Text
Keywords: food insecurity; food pantry; college; students; barriers food insecurity; food pantry; college; students; barriers
MDPI and ACS Style

El Zein, A.; Mathews, A.E.; House, L.; Shelnutt, K.P. Why Are Hungry College Students Not Seeking Help? Predictors of and Barriers to Using an On-Campus Food Pantry. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1163.

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